By Susan Griffin, LMFT and Dennis Wong, PhD
Encouragement is an important element of positive and effective parenting. Deliver Encouragement Frequently is so obvious, yet difficult to do in the midst of our busy daily lives. We know our children need support from us. And we want to provide both emotional and physical nurturing for them. We've all heard the great parenting advice: "catch them being good." It sounds so easy. So, how do we do that?
Children often need encouragement the most when we're feeling the least inclined to give it. This may be a result of our own level of stress, the child's behavior, the demands of an ordinary day, or all of these factors. But the act of encouragement is really powerful. It can inspire your children to be more confident.
How can you start? For example, you walk into the house after a stressful day to discover that your adolescent child has created havoc with the freshly cleaned floor. The child's friends are there. You feel your frustrated reaction and the impulse to speak out. Stifle it. Say "hello". And take action, by taking care of yourself first. Go to your room, change your clothes, count to ten, focus on relaxing, and plan your next move. You want to be sensitive to the fact that you've just greeted your child, and that peers are still in the house. If you can't live with the dirty floor for a while, then calmly get your child's attention and request that his/her friends leave. Once they're gone, express your concern and ask for cooperation in addressing it. If you can live with the dirty floor for a while, simply wait until later in the evening when everyone has unwound a bit and you have some private family time. When they do a good job, you should tell them "well done", to show that you care and their effort has been seen.
Give out your encouragement frequently; unlike praise, you cannot overdo encouragement. We balance our need for respect and cooperation from our child, with our child's need for structure and teaching. And we do this in a constant state of change. For our child is a dynamic force in our lives. This is a good method of positive parenting.
Encouragement from mom or dad inspires cooperation from a child. So, for the sake of our children, let's all deliver encouragement frequently!